How Much Does Bikepacking Cost: A step by step guide to a daily budget


For even the most experienced of us, working out how much a bikepacking trip will cost can be difficult. Whether it is your first time bikepacking, or you’re an experienced veteran,  working out the budget of your bikepacking trip is a key skill.

On average, bikepackers spend $34 per person per day on a bikepacking trip. For trips that lasted longer than 2 weeks, the cost fell to $28 per day. When looking at trips that lasted longer than 1 month, the average price per day rose to $38.

While the average amount spent per day is $34, the actual amount varies greatly on a wide variety of factors including what country you are cycling in, what accommodation you are using, and what you are eating. We’ve collected information on all of these factors, as well as a few more, to help you budget for your bikepacking trip.

The step-by-step guide to estimating your trip budget

Step 1) Calculate your estimated accommodation cost

CostAccommodationCost Per Day (1 person)Cost Per Day (2 people)
BudgetStealth camping
Occasional campsite
$5$5
AverageStealth Camping
Occasional Hotel
$15$16
LuxuryHotel Rooms
Air B&B
$40$42

For example – If you estimate your accommodation will best match the “Average” category, then start with $15.

Step 2) Add your estimated food costs

CostExample foodsCost per day (1 person) Cost Per Day (2 people)
BudgetHomemade dehydrated meals
Porridge
Beans & Rice
$10$16.60
AveragePre-bought dehydrated meals
Snack bars
Occasional meals out
$18$30
LuxuryEating out for almost every meal $58$58

For example – If you estimate your food will best match the “Average” category, then add $18 to your $15. This would leave us at $33

Step 3) Multiply the result by the value of the country you are traveling to

LocationCost ratio compared to the USA
Europe1.02
Morocco1.03
Syria0.61
Iran0.44
Turkey1.38
Thailand0.83
Cambodia0.87
Malaysia0.73
Singapore0.53
Australia0.85
New Zealand0.89
America/USA1.0
Canada0.77

For example – We are currently on $33, if I was planning a bikepacking to Australia I would multiply this by 0.85. This would leave us at $28.05.

Step 4) Multiply the result by the value for the length of your trip

Trip LengthCost ratio compared to the USA
Less than 2 weeks1
2 weeks to 1 month0.82
1 month plus1.12

For example – We are currently on $28.05, if our trip was planned to be for a week we would multiply this by 1. This would leave us at $28.05.

Step 6) Add any extra costs such as Visas, Travel insurance, or tourist expenditure or bike maintenance

Extra Estimated Cost
Travel Insurance$30 per trip
Visa$5-$270 per trip
Tourist Expenditure$5-$100 per day
Bike maintenance $1.2 per day

For example – For our one-week trip, we are unlikely to buy travel insurance or require a travel visa but we will put money aside for bike repairs. This leaves us at a final estimated budget of $29.25 dollars per day.

A detailed look into each of the factors

The impact of trip length on cost

One of the first factors that will impact the cost of your bikepacking trip is the length of the trip itself. We surveyed a range of bikepackers who had done trips from 1 night, up to those who had completed multi-year transcontinental bikepacking trips, to find out exactly how much of an impact it makes.

Overall, the average cost per day for a bikepacking trip came in at $34 dollars. However, as you can see from the spread in the graph below, short trips (those less than 2 weeks) had a higher cost than trips lasting between 2 weeks and a month (medium trips). This might come as a result of the fact that the upfront costs of a bikepacking trip can be spread out over a longer period of time (such as the cost of taking time off of work, buying replacement gear, or arranging travel insurance).

On the other hand, long trips (those lasting over 1 month) did not follow this trend, with these trips costing the most per day overall. This may well be the result of the extra costs associated with these longer trips (Visas, flights, etc), or it could be that people doing longer trips such as this are not able to remain on such a tight budget for an extended period of time, and so spend more on luxuries such as hotels or meal out.

A graph showing the cost per day in USD of a bikepacking trip based on the length of the trip

The impact of traveling with a partner on cost

It is important to note that the number of people going on a bikepacking trip has a large impact on the overall cost. Doubling the number of people on a bikepacking trip does not double the price, this is because certain expenses, particularly accommodation, do not increase by twice the price with an extra person.

In fact, when we reviewed a range of UK and US-based hotels (2 common bikepacking destinations), we found that on average, the price of a hotel room when being used for a couple, was only 5% more than when booking them for a single person. In fact, some hotels were charging more for a single person than they were for a double!

As you can see, traveling as a couple, or as a pair can considerably reduce the accommodation costs, as this price does not increase considerably but can be split between two people.

Accommodation costs are not the only factor that may decrease when bikepacking with a partner. Food costs may also be reduced. Anecdotally, the bikepacking couples we spoke to, suggested that their food costs did not double when they traveled as a couple, and suggested that each person’s food bill went down by 1/3rd when combining meals and eating together. This main saving came from sharing ingredients and being able to buy more food in larger quantities.

The impact of the country you are visiting on cost

It is impossible to work out a budget for a bikepacking trip without taking into account the country that you will be traveling in. Different countries have considerably different costs of living and this will impact the cost of expenses in those countries (food, accommodation, etc).

Reviewing the budgets we found on the “Travelling Two” blog helped us to clarify the different costs per country. Some countries cost as little as $17 per day, whereas others such as Turkey cost them $54.

Given their trip was over such a long period, it provides a great resource to scale your estimated spending per day to the country you plan to travel in.

It is these values that we used to calculate our “cost ratio” table in the step-by-step guide at the top of this article. Below you can see the different ratios of each country when compared to a general US budget.

Using the calculated ratio we can see that a budget of $100 dollars per day when spent on a bikepacking trip in the USA will cost you roughly $61 in Syria or $138 in turkey.

A bar chart showing the relative cost of bikepacking in a range of locations

The impact of food on trip cost

The next point to consider is the type of food you eat. If you are spending each night eating a meal cooked on a gas burner from locally purchased seasonal foods, then you are going to spend a lot less than if you were going out for dinner.

The average amount our bikepackers spent per day on food was $24. However, this includes some bikepackers who were on short trips and treating their dining situation like they were on holiday, going out for dinners, buying coffee, etc.

When we looked more closely, the actual spending per day on food fell into 3 main categories: Budget, average, and luxury. Each of these has been accounted for in the table in the step-by-step guide.

If you are looking to try and keep your food budget as long as possible, it is important to have a plan for your meals each day before you get hungry. You don’t want to be testing your willpower after 50 miles of cycling when you pass a restaurant.

The other key point is to ensure you are buying cheap local food. For example, the cheapest option in the USA is not going to be the same as in many parts of Asia, so being flexible with what you eat can help to cut costs.

The impact of the accommodation on trip cost

While bikepacking trips typically involve camping, not everyone does this. “Credit card bikepackers”, as they are known in the bikepacking world take a much more luxurious approach to bikepakcing. Often booking Air B&B’s or hotels for the majority of their nights away. Even those of you who plan to camp will require occasional accommodation while on longer trips. This can give you the opportunity for a shower, a good night’s sleep, and a hot cup of coffee in the morning.

Another key difference when looking at accommodation budgets was whether the bikepackers were stealth camping or were using paid-for campsites. The majority of experienced bikepackers were using stealth camping for the majority of their trips (provided it was legal in the country they were traveling in), and only used a paid-for campsite on the nights where they were doing a lot of riding and wanted a more relaxing end to their day.

We have categorized daily expenditure on accommodation in the same way we have for food to try and make things easier to calculate in the step-by-step guide.

If you are looking to keep your budget as low as possible, but still want to try and squeeze in a shower of good night’s sleep, check out your local Couchsurfing websites, where people offer accommodation overnight for bikepackers and backpackers.

The impact of bike repairs and spare parts on trip cost

Of those bikepackers doing long-distance trips, maintenance and gear costs were a much larger sum than those on shorter trips. However, a mechanical or gear issue can happen at any time, so it is best to account for this cost on all your bikepacking trips. This way, even if the bike doesn’t break on your weekend trip, you are slowly budgeting for the day that it does.

Of the bikepackers we spoke to, they spent an average of $433 per year on bike repairs (although in reality, only those bikepackers on long trips kept track of this value). This comes in at $1.2 per day.

The impact of extras on trip cost (Travel/healthcare insurance/Visas)

These costs are the hardest to generalize. The cost of visas can vary from $5 to $270 depending on where it is you are traveling. You can use websites such as Visa HQ to quickly estimate the cost of any visas you may require.

At the same time, other costs such as travel and healthcare insurance will be very dependent on your individual circumstances and the country you are traveling to. On average, a worldwide travel insurance policy will cost around $30 per year, but this will be dependent on your country of origin and your personal background.

Overview

As you can see, there are many factors that will impact the cost of your bikepacking trip. We hope that with this information and the help of our step-by-step guide, you now have a better idea of how much to budget for your next bikepacking trip. Please bear in mind that these are only estimates, and you should always have some funds allocated in case of an emergency.

Mark Holmes

30-year-old doctor with an interest in cycling, bikepacking, and statistics.

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